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Macedonia cancels regional summit over Kosovo dispute

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Macedonia's president on Wednesday cancelled a regional summit following a dispute over Kosovo's participation which led to a boycott by Albania.

"I decided to cancel the summit of the South-East Europe Cooperation Process (SEECP)," scheduled for this weekend in the Macedonian lake resort of Ohrid, President Gjorge Ivanov told reporters.

The cancelation came after Albania decided to pull out of the meeting in protest over the exclusion of Kosovo.

Previously, Pristina objected as its president was left out of the summit due to opposition from Serbia and other participating nations that refuse to recognise Kosovo's independence.

"Challenges are resolved through a dialogue, not by a boycott. Our intention was... to bring all the leaders of the region to the same table," Ivanov said.

But "Macedonia does not want... to participate in the boycotts games," he said.

Annual SEECP summits bring together about a dozen countries.

Kosovo has never been invited to the SEECP gatherings because five member states -- Serbia, Greece, Romania, Moldova and Bosnia -- don't recognise the territory's unilaterally declared 2008 independence.

But after Pristina and Belgrade reached a landmark Brussels-brokered agreement last month aimed at normalising ties and bringing them closer to the European Union, Kosovo president Atifete Jahjaga was expecting an invitation to this year's summit.

According to Pristina, it did not happen because of Serbia and Bosnia's opposition.

Macedonian officials have said they were not in a position to send an invitation as the organisers could not invite a non-member state "without approval by all participating countries."

In response, Albanian President Bujar Nishani said he was pulling out of the summit in protest at Jahjaga's exclusion.

Serbia lost control over its then southern province Kosovo after a 1998-1999 war, but it has fiercly refused to recognise the ethnic Albanian majority's independence.

More than 90 states have done so, including the other seven SEECP members Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and Turkey, as well as the United States and most of European Union countries.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130614/macedonia-cancels-regional-summit-over-kosovo-dispute